How much does a patent cost?

Key points

  • Costs vary based on the number of countries in which protection is sought, the patent laws of each country, and the inventiveness of your invention.
 
  • The patent application process often spans years – costs early on are low but can grow.
 
  • To secure granted patents in six major jurisdictions, $100K can be spent in 4-8 years.

 

  • Granted patents often aren’t required for commercialisation. Filing the first patent application to establish pending patent rights can be sufficient to deter competitors and attract investor interest.

Profiting from patent protection is no cheap endeavour

A patent provides its owner with a monopoly over their invention. Patentees have the exclusive right to make, sell, license and otherwise exploit their patented products and processes for up to 20 years. Suffice it to say: fortunes have been built on powerful patent rights.

 

However, patent protection is not for the faint-hearted and there are substantial costs involved. Below, we look at typical costs and how they vary based on your invention and protection strategy.

1. Starting with a provisional patent application

With reference to our patent flowchart, the first stage in the patent application process often involves filing a provisional patent application. The application establishes pending patent rights in 180+ countries for 12 months.

 

After finding a patent attorney with the right technical background for your invention, they will prepare a patent specification which details your invention and the scope of protection being applied for. Depending on the complexity of your invention, the following costs for filing a provisional patent application can be expected:

  • Attorney fee: $4K+
  • IP Australia filing fee: $110

2. Continuing with a PCT patent application

Before the 12-month expiry date of your provisional application, you may need to decide which countries to continue the patent application process in. To keep your options open, you can file a patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

 

The PCT application continues the pending rights established by your provisional patent application for another 18-19 months in 150+ countries.

 

Filing a PCT application is optional, but many applicants file it to delay the next step of filing in each country of interest (when costs can escalate). To file a PCT application, the following costs can be expected:

  • Attorney fee: $4K+
  • WIPO filing fee: $4K+

3. Filing patent applications in each country of interest

A key factor that determines patent costs is the number of countries you apply in. Remember, in applying for patents, you are effectively requesting governments grant you monopolies in their respective jurisdictions. To obtain such powerful and market-distorting rights, government fees apply.

 

Below is a guide to base filing fees (including government fees) in jurisdictions commonly filed in:

  • Australia: $1.5K
  • New Zealand : $1.3K
  • USA: $4K
  • China: $4K
  • The EU: $9K
  • Japan: $5K

 

After filing, additional fees are incurred as the patent applications are examined by the patent offices of each country.

4. Patent examination

Patent laws seek to ensure patents are only granted to novel and inventive inventions, and not to technologies that already exist or are obvious. Otherwise, countries can be hurt by monopolistic prices charged on everyday technologies.

 

The patent examination process involves each patent office reviewing your patent specification (which is based on the patent specification of your provisional patent application) and determining whether your invention is novel and inventive.

 

Patent offices commonly raise objections; your patent attorney can respond by submitting arguments and/or amending your patent specification. A detailed look at the examination process is discussed here.

 

Generally speaking, the “tougher” the patent requirements of a country, the more patent examination might cost since it can be harder to convince the patent office that an invention is worthy of patent protection. By the same token, the more inventive an invention, the smoother and cheaper patent protection tends to be.

 

If a patent application sails smoothly to grant without issues, examination costs can be as low as $1K. In contrast, if a patent office raises multiple objections, costs can exceed $10K.

5. Patent maintenance

Each country charges fees to keep your pending or granted patent rights active. Different countries charge different amounts and at different times, but generally speaking, these fees increase over time. IP Australia’s renewal fees are shown here.

Key takeaways

  • Patents are powerful legal rights that allow patentees to control the commercial exploitation of their inventions.

 

  • To reap the rewards of patent protection, significant time and resources are involved.

 

  • Patent fees should be readily serviced by current or projected income and/or investments associated with the commercialisation of your technology.

 

To arrange a confidential discussion to discuss whether patent protection suits your commercial strategy, book an appointment with us below.